Tag Archives: authority

Unified Congregationalism, or, doing what you didn’t think you wanted to

We had a congregational meeting tonight. We have them once a month. They range from redundant and idiosyncratic to troubling to exciting.

One passage that is often taken without context is Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.” Often it is taken as a promise that even if an unsuccessful church event is held, God is still there.

While that’s true, Christ Jesus is there when you are alone as well. And by the grace of God the Holy Spirit indwells even you! So what’s the significance of Matthew 18:20?

The point is that Jesus is there with the congregation when it makes decisions. Matthew 18:20 completes an unpopular section where church discipline is commanded (Matthew 18:15-20). So, Jesus is there with authority in these difficult decisions about turning a church member over to Satan (1 Timothy 1:18-20). And that ensures us that other congregational decisions are made with confidence that Christ is there working His will out through His fallible and continually erring people.

So the next time you or I participate in a congregational meeting, whether you voice your vote for or against (or even abstain?), do so with confidence that the Lord is working His will. And when you get voted against and it passes, put your heart into the Lord’s work and do what you didn’t think you wanted to because your Lord Jesus was there, sovereign and glorious as ever!

Great Commission Resurgence

Pray4GCR.comSome may have heard about the Great Commission Resurgence (GCR) that was voted on earlier this year at the Southern Baptist Convention.

My church is trying to orient itself toward the great commission. This is partly because of the great commission resurgence but more fully because Christ commanded the great commission after His resurrection in Matthew 28:18-20, which states:

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Tonight my church had a meeting where we formed our great commission committee. There was a lot of optimism. We have established the committee. We have set another meeting. We’re hoping to organize three upcoming events: a block party, Operation Christmas Child, and the Lottie Moon offering.

Two things play prominent roles as we consider the great commission. I think these are also things that the GCR Task Force should begin with. First, the great commission is spoken to specific people. Verse 18 starts with “And Jesus came and said to them”. Jesus is the authority. And He comes to a group of disciples who are, well, discipled. For roughly three years Jesus has been leading these people, mentoring them, discipling them, teaching them. Following Jesus’ resurrection He has spent another 40 days discipling them. The great commission is given to discipled believers. This does not mean that new believers are exempt but that new believers should be quickly taught to communicate the faith (previously the mature in Christ have failed to do this).

Second, the great commission is the command of Jesus Christ who has all authority in heaven and on earth. We need to be obedient to His command. But more than that we need to obey His command from the right understanding. The end of verse 20 reads, “I am with you always, to the end of the age”. Our obedience comes from a dependence on Jesus’ presence in order to obey.

So we need to focus on discipleship, making sure our churches can tell others about who Jesus is, what He did, and why it matters. And then we need to understand the authority of Jesus Christ and His presence with us in order to obey His command so we can reach the lost.